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Connecticut Department Of Education - The Mission and Current Goals of the Connecticut State Department of Education

high school reform

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE), as the administrative body of the Connecticut State Board of Education, takes as its mission the task of ensuring an excellent education and equal opportunity for each Connecticut student. It aims to carry out this task through initiatives in research, planning, evaluation, assessment, data analyses, curriculum, and, in a nutshell, leadership. This Department is also charged with distributing funds to the 166 school districts that fall under its jurisdiction. And the CSDE administers the Connecticut Technical High School System.

As outlined in the CSDE’s “Five Year Comprehensive Plan for Education” for the years spanning 2006 to 2011, key areas of focus for the Department are currently threefold: high-quality preschool education for all students; high academic achievement of all students in reading, writing, mathematics and science, particularly those students in high-need districts and schools; and high school reform, such that all students are enabled to graduate, engage in lifelong learning, and be prepared to compete in a global economy.

High Quality Preschool Education for All Students

In working to ensure stronger preschool education for all students, Connecticut has crafted Preschool Curriculum and Assessment frameworks. This allows for alignment of curriculum based upon research, and the hope is that top quality teachers can implement the curriculum from preschool through Grade 3. Monitoring and assessment systems would also tie into state standards.

Citing the problem of underfunded preschool programs (almost double the number of students could use this preschool experience in high-need districts than there are slots for such students), and citing the problem of uneven knowledge, skills and credentials of preschool teachers throughout the state of Connecticut, the CSDE has committed to the following action steps: support increased preschool funding for children (ages three or four) in high-need districts and elsewhere throughout the state; increase funding for more preschool facilities; work with Connecticut higher education to provide financial aid in various ways to degree candidates seeking an early childhood education credential; and work with Connecticut higher education on ways to strengthen early childhood education programs. Such early childhood education programs can also be expanded to allow off-campus earning of a needed credential. The CSDE has likewise committed to providing professional development for preschool teaching staff, and also to promoting best practices among districts. And, finally, the CSDE will support the creation and implementation of a kindergarten-readiness measure.

High Academic Achievement of All Students in Basic Skills

Noting “unacceptable” achievement gaps in basic skills between low-performing and high-performing students in the state of Connecticut, the CSDE has found disparities between gender, race, ethnicity and differing socioeconomic populations.

Action steps to address the above issues include developing model curriculums in specified basic skills; providing technical support and training for teachers with the new curriculums; creating assessments which align with curriculums; requiring low-performing districts to assess students in all grades, and using scores to improve teaching in those districts; creating incentives to “attract, support and retain” excellent teachers in high-need districts, particularly minority teachers; and encouraging teacher-mentor programs, encouraging strong paraprofessionals to become certified teachers, and encouraging teachers with fine leadership capabilities to become school administrators.

High School Reform

The CSDE has committed to the following action items:

Informing those students from middle and high schools in high-need districts about post-high school incentives for those who attend Connecticut educator preparation coursework; coordinating with Connecticut higher education venues to provide tuition help for those students with greatest need in pursuing math and science education degrees; providing support for beginning teachers and new administrators; creating extended learning environments which reach beyond the school day/school year, to include tutoring and other homework help, summer school, before/after-school and weekend programs, and which includes implementation in various schools once pilot programs have been evaluated.

An additional focus area for the CSDE includes enhancing partnerships with families and communities. As part of this action plan, the CSDE will work on the following: educator training with NCATE standards on family/community partnerships; professional development to school and district staff in developing family/community partnerships based on State Board of Education standards; continue to support schools and districts identified by the NCLB Act as “in need of improvement,” and do so using specific accountability measures and support systems.

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